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The Traghetto, No. 2

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 233
Date: 1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 243 x 307 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower left (1-3); replaced with a butterfly further up (4-final)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'First Venice Set', 1880
No. of States: 9
Known impressions: 60
Catalogues: K.191; M.188; W.156
Impressions taken from this plate  (60)


Nine states are known before cancellation, which occurred in two stages.

State 1

Impression: K1910102
Signed with a lightly etched butterfly at the lower left.
With most details of the composition present, some lightly indicated; the hat and hair of the man at left of the table is only partly drawn; the lantern at the back of the passageway is barely distinguishable.

The impression reproduced above is badly stained and trimmed within the platemark. It originally belonged to Otto Henry Bacher (1856-1909), whose collector's mark is stamped on the image at lower left. 9

9: Bacher's collector's stamp (Lugt 2002); Frits Lugt, Les Marques de Collections de Dessins & d'Estampes (1921, 1956) online at (accessed 2012)

State 2

Impression: K1910204
The hat of the man at the left of the table is more complete, with a tall crown and wide brim, and his dark hair covers the back of his neck; the lantern at the back of the passageway is clearly defined; vertical lines are added to the shading on the upper wall to right of the rightmost tree.
The impression reproduced above has stains at the upper right and spots of foul biting at lower right.

State 3

Impression: K19102a
The figure and gondola, in the distant view at right, are almost completely removed; shading is added among the foliage over the arch and on the trunks and branches of the trees.
This impression, seen by Kennedy after publication of his catalogue, has not been located. According to Kennedy, 'A pencil line is drawn on this impression as a suggestion, possibly, for reducing the size of the plate.' 10

10: Kennedy 1910 (cat. no. 191 IIa).

State 4

Impression: K1910316
Signed with a butterfly below the window at lower left, replacing the lightly etched butterfly that was lower on the wall in earlier states.
Most of the image, from the left side to the seated man facing front at the right, has been scraped from the plate and re-etched; foul biting and a pronounced 'tide line,' created by acid when the reworked area was bitten, surround the new work and are most visible at the bottom and sides. Many details from the original composition are retained, but notable changes from the earlier version include: the window and archway are more emphatically drawn, a new butterfly signature and a new girl holding a child are added at left; a more clearly defined lantern; white patches, representing leaves, within the passageway; the doorway, brickwork and archway at the right entrance to the passageway are clearly defined; the back of the hat brim of the man seated at left of the table is incomplete.

State 5

Impression: K1910320
The pronounced 'tide line' around the reworked area is removed and those areas are burnished; three small white patches, representing falling leaves, are added by the lantern.
The burnished area from the butterfly to the table is lighter than the surrounding plate tone on most impressions, due to the polished plate surface where the line was removed. One impression located has a curving scratch below the trunk of the middle tree (see Graphic with a link to impression #K1910305). There is a possibility it was drawn intentionally, to extend the length of the tree trunk, but it does not make sense visually, so it is more likely a defect that appeared, and then was removed in other impressions of this state.

State 6

Impression: K1910402
The back of the hat brim of the man seated to left of the table is now completed; his body and chair are partly removed, and fine granular foul biting is now visible in that area; two small white patches remain below the lantern.
The wine glass and carafe on the table, which were lightly indicated from the start, are faint in some impressions.

State 7

Impression: K1910203
A small, slightly curved diagonal scratch now crosses the bottom of the nearest tree trunk; the wine glass and carafe on the table have worn away or been removed.

State 8

Impression: K1910504
One small white patch remains, at lower right of the lantern; more shading darkens the back of the passageway; the carafe is redrawn in drypoint; eyes are drawn on the child in the girl's arms; the left gondolier, seen through the passageway, has worn away or been removed.
Whistler wrote 'Baby's eyes - rare -' on one impression of this state (Graphic with a link to impression #K1910503).

State 9

Impression: K1910601
New drypoint lines reinforce the torso, hair and hat of the man seated on the left of the table as well as the outlines of the table and the shading under it; some short drypoint lines and touches of shading are added on the three other seated figures; small, scattered spots of corrosion are visible above and below the butterfly signature.

State 9 (cancelled a)

Impression: K1910602
Cancelled with two large 'X's.

State 9 (cancelled b)

Impression: K1910702
Further cancelled by a butterfly with a long curving sting, surrounded by radiating lines.